Have you ever learned after the fact that your work has been for nothing? Your time, money, and effort spent in vain.
How frustrating it is to learn you wasted time, money, and effort. It is much more devastating to learn you have wasted your whole life’s work. People give up on life over such things.
This terrible waste is what happens when people reject the gospel, but also when those who trust the gospel never work out their salvation (Phil 2:12). Their life is wasted when it should be spent in service to the Lord (2 Cor 5:15).
To saved men Paul writes:
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” – Phil 2:13
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – 1 Cor 6:20
Paul worked hard to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Col 1:28-29). This meant he wanted them saved, but also serving. He wanted them to have the mind of Christ and to spend their time, money, and energy as servants of God.
He did not want them wasting their life in service to themselves, otherwise his own time ministering to them would have been spent in vain. The idea of his work being for nothing in the end kept Paul up at nights.
“For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.” – 1 Thess 2:5
When Paul heard his spiritual children falling into error, continuing in carnality and sin, or losing hope he took special care to ensure his life’s work was not wasted.
He sternly rebuked the behavior of the Corinthians and corrected the doctrine of the Galatians so that neither their faith nor their labour would be in vain (1 Cor 15:2; 15:17; 15:58; Gal 4:11).
“I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” – Gal 4:11
When he heard that some were undermining his preaching of the gospel of grace, he traveled to Jerusalem and contended with them face to face in order to protect his work for the Lord (Gal 2:2).
The Philippians were rightly concerned for Paul’s welfare when he was imprisoned, but in order to protect his labour from being in vain, he wrote an epistle encouraging them to continue holding forth the word of life.
“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” – Phil 2:16
If they became discouraged in suffering or by his death, then what good was Paul’s life work to create serving saints that quit? It would come to nothing!
Labour is not wasted on teaching saints to serve, but it is for nothing if they do not. Paul encouraged his spiritual children to “stand fast in the Lord” (Phil 4:1).
Paul worked hard to secure his crown of rejoicing in the day of Christ.
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.” – 1 Thess 2:19-20
Paul’s legacy and means of rejoicing was to see men saved, but also faithfully serving the Lord with right doctrine and a right heart. His biggest reward was found in his spiritual children that continued serving, holding fast to the form of sound words.
We will rejoice in the day of Christ in the work we do now that was not in vain. Worthy work does not stop at preaching the truth of the gospel. Ministry work is also required to see that truth work in and out of the saints.
Don’t waste your life. Spend it serving God and helping others do the same.
“…and the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” – 2 Timothy 2:2